The epic poem highlights the hero Jason, and his quest for the Golden Fleece. According to the myth, Jason and fifty other renowned members of Greece set out for the fleece so that Jason could earn back his father’s kingdom. Jason is a particularly interesting hero because he often displays qualities of an efficient leader. This is distinct compared to other heroes, such as Hercules, who are better known as warriors rather than leaders.
Apollonius’ epic would lay the groundwork for the works of Gaius Valerius Flaccus and Virgil. The Golden Fleece was the item which Jason, with the help of the Argonauts, was forced to retrieve. The origin of the Golden Fleece begins with Phrixus and Helle, the children of Athamus, and the goddess Nephele. When Athamas remarried, the children’s stepmother, Ino, became Jealous of them and plotted to get rid of Phrixus and his sister. Ino persuaded two messengers to say that that the oracle required the sacrifice of Phrixus to restore ertility to the fields.
Before Phrixus could be sacrificed, however, Nephele sent a golden ram which carried both children off through the air. Helle fell into the Hellespont, but Phrixus arrived safely at Colchis, where he married the daughter of King Aeetes. Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus, and gave its pelt (the Golden Fleece) to Aeetes. Aeetes placed the fleece in an oak tree, where it remained. Then Jason’s Father Aeson, was driven from power and killed by his brother Pelias. Jason death is aked and the child is sent away to be taught by the centaur Chiron.
Jason returns later to reclaim his throne. However, an oracle warns Pelias that he will die at the hands of one of his relatives and that he should be wary of a man wearing only one sandal. Pelias informs Jason that he would give up his throne if Jason would set out and retrieve the Golden Fleece. The Argonautica begins as Jason is assembling a crew for the Argo. The Argo was the boat which was built by Argos for the Journey. It was slightly larger than most ships at the time. In many ways the author Apollonius does not highlight the true heroism of Jason.
Jason, through the author’s description, does not appear as heroic as he really was. The definition of a Greek tragic hero is a man who is neither a pure man nor one who receives his fate as a result of his wickedness, but because of some mistake. From this it can be derived that the tragic hero must be both mortal, and human, and one who receives his fate as a result of error rather than as retribution. In both these instances Jason is a tragic hero ecause he is neither a perfect man nor a terrible man and he dies as a result of mortal mistakes as opposed to retribution.
In the case of Jason, his tragic flaw is being too dependent on others. Jason tragic end begins as a result of Medea, who kills Pelias and forces Jason to flee his father’s former kingdom after the Journey. Medea then kills Jason’s sons and flees after Jason married another woman. Apollonius does not mention this part of the myth in his epic. In this way the true entirety of the definition is not fulfilled by the epic. Argonatica By Ibeaulieu